The IACHR includes Nicaragua on its black list and maintains Cuba and Venezuela

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The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced Thursday that Nicaragua is on its “black list” due to the “de facto” installation of a state of emergency with the abuse of force, the imprisonment of dissident voices and the closure of the media.

This is the first time in 25 years that Nicaragua appears in Chapter IV of the IACHR’s annual report, which this time refers to 2018 and each year names the states of the American continent where respect for human rights deserves the “special attention” of the Washington-based organization.

In statements to Efe, Antonia Urrejola, Nicaragua’s IACHR rapporteur, explained that the establishment of this state of exceptionality “de facto” has been considered by the organization as a “determining element” to incorporate the Central American country to the “black list”.

“The grave human rights crisis (…) has lasted more than eight months due to the de facto installation of a state of emergency characterized by the abusive exercise of public force.

“The serious human rights crisis that the country is going through has extended for more than eight months due to the de facto installation of a state of exception characterized by the abusive exercise of public force to repress dissident voices against the government,” Urrejola said.

The Nicaraguan executive was also pointed out by the IACHR due to the “massive, systematic and serious repressive state response against the population” from the protests that began last April against the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, and that have left 325 dead, according to the agency itself.

According to the document, the Nicaraguan government has rejected the report because it considers it to be unscrupulous and politicized and, furthermore, assured that it reflects “destabilizing political interests against the State of Nicaragua,” whose president considers the protests an attempt at a “coup d’état” orchestrated by Washington.

Nicaragua was last placed on the “black list” in the 1993 report, after having been included in that list every year since 1982.

With respect to Venezuela, which has been on the list every year since 2005, the IACHR asserts that the “structural” conditions affecting the rights of Venezuelans have “worsened” and have led to “a serious political, social, and economic crisis, to the point where there is currently an absence of the rule of law.

The Commission referred to the elections held last May, won by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and whose results were not recognized by the opposition, which led the president of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, to proclaim himself head of state on January 23.

The IACHR did not mention Guaidó because the report refers to 2018, but affirms that “the way” in which the May elections were held “deepened the institutional crisis”.

The IACHR did not mention Guaidó because the report refers to 2018, but affirms that “the way” in which the May elections were held “deepened the institutional crisis.

The agency urged the Venezuelan state to “re-establish constitutional order,” to release those detained for exercising their right to protest and to avoid “illegal or arbitrary detentions,” as well as to take the necessary measures to guarantee access to food and medicine.

On Cuba, in the list every year since 1984, the IACHR warns of “arbitrary restrictions” on the right to vote and freedom of expression, as well as “violations” of due process.

Specifically, the IACHR believes that the process of debating the new Cuban Constitution suffered “serious flaws” and questioned the process that led to the appointment of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who replaced Raul Castro in April 2018.

The Cuban Executive was the only one that did not respond since it does not recognize the competence of the IACHR because it depends on the OAS.

In this regard, the agency said that “during the development of the electoral process” that led to the election of Diaz-Canel “was observed the persistence of conditions that prevent the genuine political participation of various sectors of society.

The governments of Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba know that they have been included in Chapter IV since late January, when the IACHR sent them the draft report for comments.

The Cuban Executive was the only one who did not respond since it does not recognize the competence of the IACHR because it depends on the OAS, which Cuba refuses to reinstate because it considers that the organization is an instrument of U.S. imperialism to influence Latin America.

Cuba was suspended from the OAS in 1962 after the triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro and, although the organization lifted that suspension in 2009, the island refused to return.

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Abortion in Cuba: Boomerang effect

Abortion in Cuba

Abortion in Cuba, a growing trend

Many women defend abortion because they consider it is a right.  At this time, a disturbing question arises: who defends the right to life?

Cuba decriminalized the abortion in 1936, then it could only be done under the conditions imposed by law. Castroism liberalized abortion since 1965. The practice of which reached extraordinary proportions in the next years of the last century. This continues in spite of the fact that some official media report that there is a tendency to decrease.

When they removed the legal restrictions, the Cuban regime made it as natural as going to the movies. This revolution has consequences: irresponsible sexual behavior or complete ignorance about sex education. The country’s poor economic situation, the impossibility for young couples to have adequate housing, etc. also contribute to this.

Many people who occupy important responsibilities in state institutions defend the right to abort.

Liliet Heredero published an article: When abortion is an alternative to the contraceptive method, in Cuba there is a social and moral tolerance to abortion and its practice is frequent.

According to data recorded by the Johnston Archive in 2015, the abortion rate is among the highest in the world.

Everything seems to indicate that many young Cuban women have no real knowledge of its physical and psychological consequences.

In 2009, more than half of the infertility cases of women treated in health centers were caused by the sequelae of abortions.

Alarming figures

Although some articles related to the subject, cite as source the figures offered by the Statistical Yearbook of the Ministry of Public Health, the Yearbook corresponding to 2018 does not offer any information in this regard.

According to a Cibercuba publication, in 2016: 85,445 abortions were performed on women between the ages of 12 and 49. Also, resulting in 49.1 terminations per 100 pregnancies, half of those performed in 2005, according to the publication.

In addition, another news item, this time from the EFE agency, published on January 24th of this year with the title Abortions outnumber births on the Isle of Youth. Last year, there were registered 1,200 abortions compared to 900 births.

Anti-abortionist positions gain ground

Anti-abortionist positions are gaining ground in Cuba. There are public demonstrations by some MINSAP leaders. They have warned of its consequences at a time when population ageing is increasing and population growth has gone from low to negative.

Abortion has become a boomerang for castrism, since it harms one of the essential constituent elements of every State, its population.

Finally, the Government’s very liberal position had a turning point after John Paul II’s visit to Cuba in 1999. From then on, Cuban authorities began to express that abortion is not a contraceptive method.

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Cuba says U.S. manipulates Diplomatic Health Incidents

Cuba denounced Donald Trump’s Government on Thursday for continuing to refer to health incidents among its diplomats in Havana as “attacks” without presenting any evidence, and said it was part of a broader campaign to damage bilateral relations, according to a Reuters news agency cable.

Both Canada and the United States reduced their embassy staff in Havana after diplomats began complaining of mysterious episodes of dizziness, headaches and nausea two years ago.

“The issue has been highly manipulated politically by the U.S. Government, with unfounded accusations, which has been a pretext for taking action against bilateral relations,” Carlos Fernández de Cossio, director of U.S. affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference in Havana.

U.S.-Cuba relations have plummeted since Trump became president once again, reinforcing the trade and travel embargo he has been in Cuba for decades.

“This manipulation is also serving those who want to reinforce the idea that Cuba is a threat and those who opportunistically seek to label Cuba as a country that sponsors terrorism,” Fernandez de Cossio said, according to Reuters.

While Cuba had no doubt that some diplomats had fallen ill, so far there was nothing to suggest that this was not due to a pre-existing condition, natural causes or even psychological suggestions, he said.

In contrast, cooperation with Canada had been much better, the Cuban official said. “Canada made no accusations against Cuba regarding the attacks, Canadian politicians have not come out threatening us or making irresponsible statements.”

However, in January the Cuban Government criticized Canada’s decision to reduce the number of diplomatic personnel in Cuba by half after someone else became ill, bringing the total number of Canadians with unexplained symptoms to 14.

At the time, he said the measure would not help solve the mystery and would damage bilateral relations. “We hope that there will be no greater damage to our relations (with Canada), nor do we see any reason why there should be,” Fernandez de Cossio said.

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Cuartelero socialism and the peace of the sepulchres

Although there is nothing more certain than this irrational fear of death, it seems that a growing number of Cubans persist in becoming corpses. I am not only referring to the disturbing throw from a rooftop, to the decision to suffocate with a rope around one’s neck, to the instantaneous consumption of several dozen tranquilizing pills or lethal portions of rodent poison, but also to that death in instalments caused by the ingestion of alcoholic beverages.

In Cuba, suicide continues to be one of the main causes of death, although the official press insists on hiding the figures that point to the existence of a serious psychosocial problem, worsened by the economic crisis that began in 1991, until today, as a result of the suspension of aid from the so-called socialist camp.

In the capital it is very natural to come across groups of heavy drinkers and people who have lost their minds, many of them from the accumulation of misfortunes and the lack of hope to benefit even from partial solutions. Alcohol, even industrial alcohol, previously distilled to reduce its harmful effects, is consumed with total lightness by this segment of the population, victim of alienation and where the increasing presence of young women and men is noted.

This is a phenomenon that belies the Government’s cheap enthusiasm for its management successes in all aspects of national affairs.

The administrators of neocastrism boast of the number of university graduates each year, of their ability to organize massive patriotic marches, of the absence of illiterates, of free access to public health and the preservation of monthly deliveries of rationed products, among other achievements, no less publicized, despite the economic setbacks, which they attribute solely and exclusively to the U.S. embargo.

For the sake of objectivity, it would be appropriate to add the revealing number of potentially suicidal alcoholics and orates who roam the streets and sleep in the portals of battered buildings.

The leap forward that television and radio reports describe, and that appear, as spectacular or more spectacular, in the pages of the flat press, is pure mirage. In reality, life in Cuba has to do with upheavals and escapes, nothing to do with prosperity or approaches to the spheres of rationality and calm.

Precisely, alcohol is an escape route at the expense of overflowing with walkers in the years to come. Living like a zombie is part of a process determined by circumstances.

It is not easy, to have to steal to satisfy a minimum portion of the basic necessities, to shelter in a quarter in danger of collapse, to sleep on a filthy and ramshackle mattress and to bathe with a splinter of soap and half a bucket of water. Millions of Cubans have been facing these calamities on a daily basis for decades, and on top of that they can’t even complain out loud. They must do so discreetly or otherwise remain silent. Public scandal fines and contempt convictions are always available to those who overdo their dissatisfaction.

Everyday life is permeated with those agonies that everyone relieves in their own way. Some get drunk, thinking about the fatality of water everywhere. Others manage to break the siege of the Caribbean Sea and count the sorrows from other shores. The point is to escape from an unworthy existence with few possibilities of change, under the absolute hegemony of the Communist Party.

For many, suicide is the gateway to escape. Lacking the courage to die through a desperate act, some prefer to leave this world slowly with their viscera saturated with alcohol. About twenty friends and acquaintances have opted for this type of escape. Others languish step by step, their faces deformed by drunkenness and the scrapes of falls and fights that occur in the fullness of drunkenness.

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An unavoidable contribution to Guantanamo culture from exile

Manuel Augusto Lemus Martínez is another of the millions of Cubans who opted to leave Cuba in search of better horizons.

Together with Germán Guerra, Rebeca Ulloa, Ena Ruíz Columbié, Julio Benítez, Octavio Armand and many other Guantanamo poets and writers whom I do not remember now, they left for exile with no more luggage than the hope and the memory of what they lived in the land, indelible trace that they have modeled according to their experiences. Since that absence of their homeland, which has bled our culture, they have managed to continue taking Cuba deep inside.

Shortly after arriving in Guantánamo, in the mid-1980s, I met Lemus, who at that time stood out in the city’s cultural environment for his research and poetic work. On more than one occasion I noticed his eagerness to preserve magazines, documents, photographs and any source that would help him to enrich his archive.

Now, from exile, Lemus surprises us with his book Archivos Guantanameros, published by Ediciones Exodus in 2018 with the collaboration of the Cuban Institute of Cultural Sciences of the Diaspora and with the publication of Ángel Velázquez Callejas. We are surprised because the work, in two volumes, shows the magnitude of their work, which reflects the patience and time used to carry out what to date is the most complete, serious and complete research on Guantanamo writers, their publications and much more.

What I affirm is not only my opinion, but that of all those who so far have had the opportunity to review the book that Lemus graciously sent to the local poet Alex Ruiz. And it is that the work is not limited to record aspects of the life and work of literary creators of the terroir, but also goes into the investigation of the footprint that relevant Cuban intellectuals, such as Don Fernando Ortíz, and foreigners like Max Henríquez Ureña, Pedro Mir and archaeologist Mark Raymond Harrington have planted in the region of Guaso. That imprint, together with the work of those who have been born and written here, and also that which has been left by the flattened ones, constitutes ̶ I believe ̶ what Lemus has called “la guantanameritud”.

There is also updated information on the poet Octavio Armand, unknown here due to his prolonged stay in exile for ideological reasons, but considered by many who have read his work the most important poet guantanamero of the second half of the twentieth century.

In the Introduction, Lemus states with incisive sincerity: “Without distinction, along with the consecrated ones, there are occasional writers, minor writers, spoiled writers and even forgettable writers. The born, the flattened and the passing ones, those who left the imprint or the detritus of their work in some bend of the way of the Guantanameritude. Even at the risk of seeming chauvinist I have appropriated of all, without old-fashioned suspicions, calling for a new cultural paradigm of our environment. We already know that there are no unpunished innocences, we will pay the price”.

It’s too early to make a definitive judgment on this book. I very much doubt that, for now, despite its values, it will be published in Guantánamo, because it is already known, as Lemus states, that “there are no unpunished innocences”, but, I add, much less courageous acts that do not receive discriminatory silence as a response from intolerant people. What is unquestionable is that his book constitutes a resounding lie to those who affirm that Cuban culture only takes place within our insularity.

I am also sure that the only consequence of Lemus’ efforts here so far is gratitude. Gratitude for his sincerity, for not excluding anyone ̶ or even, as he himself states, the forgettable ̶ and for having provided us with so much valuable information so far published half-heartedly or silenced. Gratitude for remembering those of us who, still alive, breathe in the burning chapel that the dictatorship wants to impose on us as the only social and cultural space, unfortunately with the conspiracy of many of those mentioned in that work, and who always have a sentence to the surface to justify their cowardice in exchange for the repeated tributes paid to them by the authorities and other crumbs, quotas of power and privileges, for keeping silent in the face of abuses and tacitly defending the dictatorship, not inconsiderable dividends given the circumstances, especially when it requires dignity and courage to live these times with decorum and is not an intellectual of national resonance.

But there will already be someone who will one day make that story, someone like Lemus, who will also delve into the intricacies of these times and reveal the names of the protagonists of that vileness, today aupados, tomorrow presented in all the magnitude of their servitude.

And although in the end everything is vanity, as is affirmed in Ecclesiastes, and one day the Earth will disappear into the infinity of the universe, and the names of the greatest authors, nor of the geniuses, nor of the forgotten ̶ will not be saved, the phrase was said some time ago by José Saramago, when he was asked if it bothered him to be nominated year after year for the Nobel Prize and not to obtain it ̶ is worth imagining, much more firmly believe that in the midst of that unknown and indescribable catastrophe, will be the trace of hope that has to save the noblest of our little human soul ̶ Boti verse ̶ as undoubtedly is this invaluable contribution of Lemus to the culture guantanamera, which will also one day be dust, but as the great Spanish poet said, dust in love.

And as everything that comes from love illuminates, so long as we do not reach the end of the world ̶ which thank God is far away ̶ Guantanamero Archives will continue to shine.

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Black Spring sixteen years later

75 opponents are arrested and imprisoned

75 opponents are arrested and imprisoned

A police raid that covered practically the entire national territory giving rise to what in the world became known as the Black Spring of Cuba.

Dozens of opponents of the Castro regime were arrested, and 75 of them, sentenced to deprivation of liberty. They had sanctions of between six and twenty-eight years in prison, leading Amnesty International to declare that, “the condemned were prisoners of conscience,” given that the conduct of which they were accused was “peaceful and within the parameters of the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by international norms.

Considering, furthermore, that the charges were “politically motivated and disproportionate to the alleged crimes”.

The condemned were 74 men and one woman. Fidel Castro called her “one of the most notorious counterrevolutionary leaders”. At his home on February 24, 2003, a group of opponents gathered to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the War of Independence.

That patriotic act, called by the opposition, in which James Cason, then head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, also participated, Fidel Castro took it as an insult.

Martha Beatriz, an economist, sentenced to prison in the Black Spring and later with an extrapenal license, refused to leave Cuba, exiled, after the Group of 75 to be released.

But neither Martha Beatriz nor the rest of the opponents of the Group of 75 who remain in Cuba, technically, the extra-criminal license exempts them from the main sanction imposed nor from the accessories, so they are deprived of their rights, among which are the right to active and passive suffrage. In an election process they cannot elect or be elected.

Sixteen years ago, police cars braked, abruptly and ostentatiously, or with the utmost secrecy, in front of the houses of the opponents previously sentenced to prison. In their houses drawers were emptied, papers, books, old typewriters were seized, and then families saw their loved ones, guarded by policemen, depart for the dungeons.

I was not and I am not a “counterrevolutionary ringleader”, according to the late Fidel Castro, I am only captain of myself, but threatening me for having written the novel Bucaneros, the lieutenant colonel Abel Cervantes Palomino, at that time chief of penal processes in Las Tunas, very proudly told me: “We got the highest sanction of the 75”.

He was referring to Luis Enrique Ferrer García, detained in Puerto Padre, sentenced to 28 years in prison, after celebrating something like a Roman circus at the Universidad de Ciencias Médicas de Las Tunas.

And on days like this, I can only call Martha Beatriz to say to her: “Martha, the woman has in her favor femininity and at the same time the spiritual strength that allows her to appreciate an event with the subtlety that men often lack, then… How did you appreciate the arrests in 2003 and how do you appreciate the consequences of those arrests 16 years later?

“They took the prisoners from one end of the country to the other; but if the regime thought of bending the opposition, the shot went out the window. Instead of diminishing opposition increased, and led to the emergence of the Ladies in White, which are the visible face of opposition in exile, and in many parts of the world.

Martha Beatriz, Fidel Castro himself admitted that in February and March 2003 “we were already worse than in the days before that August 5, 1994,” when hundreds of Cubans protested at the Havana Malecon, accusing you of the “idea of unleashing a massive emigration, which would be the argument for an aggression against the country” on the part of the United States.

“There have been a few mass migrations in Cuba, but the opponents have never had anything to do with them.”

According to Roque Cabello, the only woman in the Group of 75, the arrests of the 2003 Black Spring occurred at a time of “weakness” of the regime, like the one living “now.

It is no secret, and even less so for the Castro regime, the growing discontent of the population as a result of the progressive shortage of supplies that Cuba is experiencing today, dissatisfactions exacerbated by the overflowing bureaucratism of an authoritarian regime that, in order to remain in power, decrees even how theatrical performances and painting exhibitions should be.

It is worth asking oneself: In order to silence Cubans, will castrism opt in 2019 for massive imprisonments such as those of the Black Spring of 2003?

Because of the international condemnation of that time and the determination of not a few opponents to die on hunger strike before carrying out unjust sanctions, large harvests of prisoners are not to be expected.

But the existence of Castro’sism is subordinated to the applause, or at least to the silence of the Cubans, and in order to maintain that applause or silence, given that Castro’s expertise is not the production of food or other goods but the construction of prisons, it is to be expected that the imprisonment and harassment of as many people as the Castro’s bloodhounds smell opposition will not cease, as it has been throughout these 60 years.

“In the life of a people, the turning point is when people let power go to criminals,” Willy Brad said. And as long as castrism exists in Cuba, no one who opposes the regime is safe. History has shown it from 1959 to the present day.

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Producer Miguel Mendoza dies, National Film Award 2019

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Miguel Mendoza, the producer of classic Cuban films such as Memorias del subdesarrollo, died on Sunday at 88 years of age in Havana, a few days after being recognized with the National Film Award 2019 for considering him a benchmark in his specialty.

Mendoza was one of the founders of the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematographic Industry (ICAIC), where he held different positions until he reached the position of director of production of important films, a note from that state body stands out this Monday.

ICAIC also pointed out that at the age of 21 this important filmmaker took over the production of Soy Cuba, a Cuban-Soviet film premiered in 1964 by director Mikhail Kalatozov.

In reviewing his work, he recalls that from 1960 to 2004 the producer participated in the production of more than 45 feature and medium-length fiction films and some 20 commercials and video clips.

In addition to the production of director Tomás Gutiérrez Alea‘s films (Memorias del subdesarrollo and Fresa y Chocolate), which produced other films relevant to Cuban cinematography such as Manuela, La primera carga al machete, Los días del agua and Mujer transparente.

The ICAIC also highlighted that at the age of 21 this important filmmaker assumed the production of Soy Cuba, a Cuban-Soviet film premiered in 1964 by the director Mikhail Kalatózov.

He produced films such as Jacques Besnard’s Avanti (France), Alain Nahum’s Sharks in Havana, Jean Sagols’ Blue Indigo, both co-productions Cuba-France, Matusalem II and The Law of Silence (Canada) and Estorbo (Cuba-Brazil), a feature film by Ruy Guerra.

To this he added the production of serials for television and the courses and seminars of theory and technique for the production of audiovisuals that he taught as a teacher.

Mendoza’s death occurred when he was scheduled to receive in an official ceremony – next Friday, March 22 – the National Film Prize in the central ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the ICAIC.

The award was given to the producer shared with sound recorder Jerónimo Labrada and director of photography Livio Delgado, both with an outstanding trajectory within Cuban cinematography.

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The risks of parliamentarism

The new constitution, with the single party and the irrevocability of socialism and all rights conditioned to “the ends of socialist society,” seeks the perpetuity of post-fidel Castroism. In order to do this, he lays down all the roads with mines that could eventually lead to a transition to democracy.

The strange and capricious hybrid between the presidential system and the parliamentary system, in force in Cuba since 1976, is now replaced by the mandamases by a model more similar to the parliamentary model.

They have everything planned for tomorrow if the water reaches their necks, and are forced to make changes, not lose the power. Parliamentarism in its own way, under its own rules, with its own conditions, would be one way of achieving it.

I’ll explain myself, and for that I’ll make some assumptions in the future.

In order to avoid rebellion and being kicked out by the people in the face of an aggravation of the economic crisis to unsustainable extremes, rather than unleashing a bloody repression that provokes international repudiation and perhaps even U.S. intervention, some elements within the government and the Communist Party that emerged after the death of the elders of the so-called “historic leadership” could decide to initiate reforms, not only economic, but also political, but at their own pace.

Suppose that to cover the form they make a mimic of democracy, legalize some political parties and several of their members become elected deputies of the National Assembly.

You will find a parliament dominated by the communists, who may not be called that by then because they must have changed the name of the PCC, they will be the majority and they will control everything.

The new pro-democracy deputies will drag into parliament the quarrels and disagreements of when they were opponents, while the communists, given nothing to pluralism, formed in the most iron obedience, and by survival instinct, will maintain cohesion.

But let’s go even further on the suppositions, and imagine that time has passed, the situation is out of their hands and, through constitutional amendment, they have to allow a non-communist or coalition government to win in an election.

That government would have to deal with a parliament made up mostly of communists, which would no longer be the unanimous and applauding sanhedrin of trained seals that it is now, but a pot of crickets. And many of the crickets, obstructionists and saboteurs conscientiously.

As passionate as we Cubans are, and as intolerant as we have become that we can no longer argue in peace, not even by ballot, I do not doubt that the Members, in the event of a great disagreement, will insult each other in a very nice way and fall into the Chamber. All in all, if it has happened in some European parliaments…

Political parties are supposed to be stronger in parliamentary systems, but sometimes, to be a majority, they have to resort to coalitions with other parties, even if their programmes do not coincide with their own. It could happen, for example, that social democrats and centrists would have to seek alliance with communists in some kind of concertation.

It is to be expected that after 60 years of communist dictatorship people will instinctively reject anything that smells of the left, even the democratic left. But then, as a result of that same circumstance, they will come up against an extreme right that will shock them because it is too conservative and traditionalist on issues such as social spending, the family, customs, religion and churches, the rights of women and homosexuals, and so on. Consequently, in search of more liberal policies, many would vote for the democratic left, even though it is in coalition with the communists. These, by then, will have lowered the voltage of their rhetoric and will have tempered themselves, seeking the forgetfulness of their sins, to see if they can cajole. From there to the reconquest of power goes only one step. And then, we know what’s coming…

That is why, for a democracy to function properly, especially if it is parliamentary, it is important to avoid excesses of ideology, politicking and moralistic fundamentalisms, and for there to be both a coherent and pragmatic right and a democratic, sensible, responsible left that does not allow itself to be co-opted by the Communists.

I know that I am too far ahead in my political futurology lucubrations, which may seem nonsensical to some, but it is a good thing that all of us who aspire to live in a democracy are thinking about all this from now on.

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Havana World Music celebrates its final edition with artists from three continents

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Artists from Cuba and other countries of the American continent, Europe and even a South Korean band will perform this week at Havana World Music, the largest alternative music festival on the island, which in 2019 celebrates its sixth edition, which will also be the last according to its organizers.

A total of 24 musical groups will occupy the two stages of the Salón Rosado De La Tropical, emblematic cultural space of Havana, on Thursday 21, Friday 22 and Saturday 23, said the director of the musical event, singer Eme Alfonso, who will perform on the second day.

American band Ozomatli, a Los Angeles band that has accumulated seven studio albums in its career since the 1990s, and known for fusing styles such as Latin salsa and urban rhythms such as hip-hop, jazz and funk, will close Friday’s line-up.

On Thursday, singer Cimafunk, considered the musical phenomenon of 2018 in Cuba and included by Billboard magazine among the ten Latin artists to follow this year for his catchy mix of Cuban rhythms with funk, will take to the stage.

Also noteworthy is the presence of Korean Men, a band of seven musicians from South Korea that fuses traditional Korean rhythms with jazz.

Other prominent names include Spanish flamenco singer and guitarist Diego Guerrero, Canadian rappers Nomadic Massive, the Berlin-based eclectic iLBiLLY HiTEC collective, and the Brazilian group Mental Abstrato, which mixes Latin jazz with bossa nova, soul, groove and hip-hop.

The organizer announced at the press conference that this sixth edition will be the last of Havana World Music, which in previous years has attracted thousands of visitors, especially in the 2018 edition, which meant the return of the famous Cuban group Orishas to the stages of his country after nine years of absence.

Parallel to the concerts, the programme also includes spaces dedicated to body art, graffiti and various manifestations of dance.

Today also began the advance sale of tickets at a price of between 20 and 25 CUC (17-22 euros) per day or 50 CUC the three day voucher for foreigners, while Cubans and residents can buy them in local currency (CUP) at a price approximately 25 times lower.

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U.S. evaluates restricting Visa and Mastercard transactions in Venezuela

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The U.S. government is evaluating the possibility of imposing sanctions that would prevent U.S. companies Visa and Mastercard from processing credit card payments in Venezuela, a senior government official who asked for anonymity said.

That action, which is still being studied, would represent one more step in the U.S. economic pressure campaign against Venezuelan ruler Nicolás Maduro.

According to the official, the U.S. has concluded that it has legal authority to restrict transactions in Venezuela with Visa and Mastercard because both companies are based in the U.S. Visa is based in Foster City (California), while Mastercard is located in New York.

In Cuba, the use of Visa and Mastercard cards is restricted due to the U.S. economic embargo and, in fact, they generally only work on the Island if they have been issued by banks outside U.S. territory.

The U.S. has concluded that it has legal authority to restrict Visa and Mastercard transactions in Venezuela because both companies are based in the U.S.

Donald Trump’s government has increased its economic pressure on Maduro in recent weeks with the aim of forcing him out of power and allowing a “transition” led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, interim president since January 23, supported by 54 countries.

The U.S. was the first country in the world to recognize Guaidó as president and, since then, has taken various actions to pressure Maduro, including the withdrawal of visas for Venezuelan officials and sanctions against Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the main source of foreign exchange for the state coffers.

This week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Washington with his Indian counterpart, Vijay Gokhale, and asked him not to become Maduro’s “economic lifeline” and reduce his purchase of Venezuelan crude oil, which amounts to 300,000 barrels a day.

In addition, the U.S. on Monday sanctioned the Russian bank Evrofinance Mosnarbank for helping the Venezuelan government evade the economic sanctions imposed against Caracas.

Washington also sent a formal notice to all international banks this month to warn them that they will be sanctioned if they finance Maduro.

Another option that the U.S. is evaluating is the imposition of secondary sanctions on those companies that negotiate with Maduro-controlled companies, as Washington did in the case of foreign companies buying oil from Iran.

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